The Human Trafficking Unit (HTU), which is part of PPB’s Detective Division, investigates crimes involving sex trafficking and labor trafficking, with a focus on juvenile victims. HTU investigates Measure 11 crimes and additional felony level trafficking offenses. The Unit simultaneously conducts rescue missions for victims of trafficking and disrupts the demand side of trafficking by conducting buyer suppression and directed patrol missions. Cases are also generated from Crime Stopper Tips, National Human Trafficking Hotline, federal and local law enforcement partners, Department of Human Services, and follow up on patrol reports. HTU regularly corresponds with neighboring agencies and federal partners to rescue and identify victims.
Due to the complexity of these cases, such as repeated trauma exposures, trauma bonds with traffickers, and fear of retaliation, the victims in these cases are often reluctant to come forward, make a report and continue through the criminal justice process. HTU continues to offer trauma-informed, victim-centered services.
HTU also has a strong emphasis on community education. It continuously works with community partners to educate the community on how to recognize the warning signs of human trafficking and the best ways to report it.